Arkwright’s Ten thoughts for 2012

1.  Say what you think.

2.  If your not sure then make sure.

3.  Remember if somebody promises something straight away they don’t
    understand the question.

4.  It’s better to try and get it wrong than not try at all.

5.  If you believe in something then stick by your beliefs.

6.  When a friend says they support you, it’s a fair bet in the near future you will
    actually find it they are truly a friend or not.

7.  Never trust somebody who says “Trust me”.

8.  It is often too late to do something, but rarely too early.

9.  Today is just the yesterday you will worry about tomorrow.

10. Never put your thoughts in writing!!!

Happy New Year…..

Christmas comes but once a year Yippee!!!!!!!!!!!

Well that’s Christmas out of the way.

The time of year when we traditionally send cards to people we don’t think of for the rest of the year.

The time of year when we buy presents and secretly hope that the person has spent as much on you as you have on them.

The time of year when we put up with and actually watch the crap that’s seasonal TV.

The time of year when we say never again….. Until next year that is!!

That said Christmas here passed much as normal, a quiet affair with Sue watching the TV and me watching the computer monitor. Could have been a normal few days almost except that I was munching away through various things.

If I don’t see another tube of Pringles until the end of February then I will be a happy chappie.

New desk light for the office computer table works well (Thanks mum).

The present from the wife has come up to scratch (Personal joke between the wife and I).

The Grumpy Mans guide to Christmas has also been well received (Thanks Jacquie).

The presents from the relatives have been excellent as well.

All in all I suppose it’s been enjoyable, but don’t tell anybody I said that it will spoil my street cred.

A retirement at the railway

I would like to take the opportunity to mention Cris who has taken early retirement as General Manager today from Nene Valley Railway.

Thanks Cris it’s been a pleasure to work with you, it’s fair to say Cris never once let me down, he always did what he promised and when he promised he would.

These days that is to say the least rare.

Enjoy your retirement Cris.

It’s that time of year again

To all the poor souls who are desperate enough to follow this blog I would like to take the opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a peaceful 2012.

No seasons greetings or happy winterval from here!!!

If people spent less time worrying about what they say upsetting others then they would perhaps realise they are upsetting more people by not saying something than actually saying it.

Would you Adam and Eve it.

Had an email from a company yesterday, their request was:-

A basic 8 page web site design to their chosen colours and with their logos etc.

Email it them together with a quote of cost and timescale for full site. Including  online sales and various other bits

State in writing in the email the copyright to the design is theirs.

They would then choose the design they liked best from the companies who had tendered and give it to the company who quoted lowest price and quickest time to complete.

Date for this to be submitted midday 24th December 2011

I did not reply!!!!!

Give the lady a round of applause!

Yesterday saw the release of a report on the future of Britain’s High Streets, and it has made interesting reading.

You can find a copy in PDF format here http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/business-sectors/docs/p/11-1434-portas-review-future-of-high-streets.pdf

High Street shopping has been affected by many things over the year, recessions, riots, weather to name but three. But it’s biggest threat is from The Internet shopping.

People are buying on-line more than ever before, I know I have just done my Christmas shopping all on-line this year. The wife and I even bought National Garden Vouchers on-line rather than buying them from a local garden centre. Now you may ask why?

Well the reason is simple, if both of us had gone to the local garden centre and back on the bus it would have cost us £4.40 in bus fares, over an hour in time and being at the mercy of the local buses and their apparent random timetable. The postage for the vouchers cost £2.00 so it was a no brainer as they say these days to order on-line.

In order to survive the high street is going to have to adapt, it will have to put the pleasure back in visiting the local town or city centre.

Now at this stage you might be thinking, “Hang on this is normally a blog about working on a preserved railway, so what the hell is he on about?”

Well that’s simple. Taking it to it’s most basic let’s look at who the competitors are. Now the answers to that question will vary from WE DON’T HAVE ANY IN PETERBOROUGH to answers such as The Cathedral, Flag Fen, Elton Hall etc.

The answer is actually anywhere that charges people for goods or services. The big four supermarkets are our competitors as is every shop, business and other tourist attraction.

If Mr & Mrs Average have £25 left at the end of the month for a treat then everybody including the railway is after that money. The high street and out of town centres are favourite to get it, if only because after spending that money they go home with something from experience, be it food, clothes or gadgets they have something from spending that money.

So how can the railway get that theoretical £25.00 rather than the local shops? Well what does the railway sell? Come on keep up at the back, what does the railway sell?

The answer of course is memories, that’s what we sell, memories. It’s those memories and how good they are that will determine if a visitor returns, tells his friends to visit or tells them to avoid us at any cost. We also have to offer value for money, the visitors have to go away knowing that they have had good value for money and that money was well spent.

Another question for you now. What’s the railways greatest asset? That’s easy the railways greatest asset is it’s staff, whether they are paid or volunteers. Many companies would give their bonus to have staff as keen as the railway has. Time and time again I have heard visitors saying that the staff are super, especially the locomotive crews, they talk to visitors, they wave and most importantly they smile.

So if the High Street is upping it’s game to get money in then tourist attractions have to also, but we have a head start we have the best team of staff I have come across. I have been on the railway for over seven years now and it never ceases to amaze me how keen people are to answer questions no matter how basic they seem and to give you their knowledge, skill and wisdom.

So if the railway can keep it’s problems, back biting and squabbles over nothing normally out of the public view then we have a winning team and we will sell more memories to more people. That’s what it’s all about. When you see the face of a young child light up at the sight of a locomotive be it steam or diesel coming into a station then it makes the job worth while.

A couple of years ago the wife and I visited two heritage railways in the South West. The first was a narrow gauge and the second was standard gauge. At the first there were friendly helpful staff and their enthusiasm was infectious, we had a super visit and we will certainly visit again. The second can be summed up as a lovely railway with miserable staff. The woman in the buffet was miserable, did not smile and had a face that could make milk sour. The TTI did not say please or thank you. At the seaside end of the line whilst wandering round the station taking pictures I was treated to two volunteers standing there condemning the railway and almost everybody on it. A driver grunted something unintelligible at a visitor who asked a question about the locomotive then turned his back and walked away. Suffice to say we will not be returning for another visit.

Our railway is so like the first and so unlike the second, at least the public side is, there will always be moans and groans, that’s a fact of life in any organisation, but they need to be kept private. But the enthusiasm of our staff is catching, many a time I have not felt in the most cheerful of moods especially on cold wet days, but that always goes when we see the crew of a steam train arriving, waving to visitors and smiling despite having done a few hours already in getting the locomotive ready for service.

So here’s to the many memories we will sell on the railway in 2012, and may they all be good ones.

Grumblemere Halt now on line

Grumblemere Halt, the story of a fictitious preserved railway is now on line and if your desperate to have a nose at the first two chapters they can be found at www.grumblemere.co.uk

I should point out that I am writing the story purely for my own amusement, yes sad I know!!!

Please feel free to comment either here or direct to me by email.

I must also point out that ALL the characters in the story are fictional, they are not modelled on anybody living or dead (Honest!!). I should also point out that this story has NO connection with any events past, present or future on the Nene Valley Railway where I work as a volunteer. If you also work on the Nene Valley Railway and think one of the characters is modelled on you then your more barmy than I am!